Among the various weekly occurrences at Eastern, whether that be Chapel, club meetings, or Wednesday Night Worship, Grow Group aims to establish community within each residence hall and to openly be in one another’s presence while focusing on Christ. Recently, Grow Group’s goal of establishing community and conversation surrounding Christ has expanded beyond residence halls. Co-Ed Grow Group, led by Colton Domblesky and Faith Lauffer, gives students the opportunity to attend a Grow Group that is free from restrictions regarding one’s place of living or biological sex. Meeting every Tuesday at 9 P.M., this never-done-before Grow Group aims to create a comfortable and inclusive space without any barriers regarding who is allowed to attend.
“The goal is to draw people in and show people Christ, what it means to follow Christ, and what it means to have a relationship with Christ,” Lauffer said.
The new meetings of the Co-Ed Grow Group are very free-spirited and planned around what the attendees would like to see. Regarding the first meeting’s activities, “one of the first things we did was ask what they [the attendees] wanted. I think it’s mainly about giving the power to them,” Lauffer explained. There are no preconceived perceptions associated with what the attendees may prefer during the meeting; instead, the student chaplains make sure that all voices are heard and addressed on a neutral basis.
Without a Co-Ed Grow Group, Domblesky and Lauffer note the possible discomfort and/or lack of involvement that may take place within students who are transitioning, gender fluid, would like a space outside of their assigned hall’s Grow Group, or simply “want a different environment” as Lauffer stated. While all Grow Groups, co-ed or not, provide a safe space for many students to learn and talk about Christ, the Co-Ed Grow Group does not have any restrictions as to who can attend within the student body, hence elevating the level of comfort for students. “It’s just making sure we are creating that safe space for all students, not just students who are in the LGBT community; it could be students who don’t feel comfortable going to their chaplain or have a friend who is another chaplain,” Domblesky said. Both Domblesky and Lauffer hope that these Co-ed Grow Groups will continue on Eastern’s campus after they both graduate, while being a safe space on campus for all who attend.
Both Colton Domblesky and Faith Lauffer began the Co-Ed Grow Group with a desire to spread and learn about the Word of God without any barriers or discomforts present. Lauffer spoke about the
female and male Grow Groups with fellow student chaplain and friend, Malicka Encarnacion. “We have a
duty to be with people who may struggle to be reached by other people,” Lauffer shared.
The ever-present divide between people who are LGBTQIA+ and people with disapproving theologies
have caused many to turn away from Christianity entirely. This inclusive Grow Group aims to combat this issue while ensuring that everyone can have communion with others in Christ’s Word without worldly apprehension. “I think it’s just something that Eastern really needs to look into now, especially in this day and age when division is such a big problem, and making sure people are included and not a part of that
divide,” Domblesky said.
The leaders of the Co-Ed Grow Group, among many other Eastern students and staff members, have emphasized the importance of bringing forth change in the Eastern community regarding the inclusion of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ Yearning for this change towards community and understanding, Domblesky states, “It’s more so recognizing that people are being recognized and feel valued by God and by their peers,” Domblesky said. “What we want to happen we need to create,” Lauffer
said, yearning for this change towards inclusivity.